“A Padres Moment–Forever”
Joe Musgrove did what no one else has ever done.
Not the legendary first great one, Randy Jones.
Not the rented one Kevin Brown.
Not the then hot prospect one Jake Peavy.
As Joe Musgrove threw that gem, a no hitter, on Friday night, I thought of all those years of good Padres baseball, and the fact we never had one…a ‘”No No” .
And I thought of the past San Diego bred players who accomplished the feat. Cole Hamels with the Phillies. David Wells with the Yankees. And the 1955 version of Don Larsen, the World Series no hitter and perfect game against the Dodgers.
In the Padres 53-year history, 23-times a Padres pitcher had taken a no hitter into the 8th inning. A total of five pitchers have gotten no hitters into the 9th inning. None came out the other side.
The curse of Clay Kirby lives no more. He, the young pitcher, who had a no hitter into the 8th inning, only to be lifted by Manager Preston Gomez, only to see the bullpen lose the game in 1970, the second year of the franchise.
Bonus baby Steve Arlen went 8.2-innings before losing the no hitter to the Phillies.
Andy Ashby surrendered a 9th inning single to the Braves.
Chris Young gave up a home run in the 9th inning of his start against the Pirates.
Aaron Harang, the ex Red, finishing his career in San Diego colors, and four relievers got to the 9th inning before it was broken up, and resulted in a loss to the Dodgers.
But what Musgrove did looked different, felt different.
There may have been edge of the seat tension in my living room watching it on Friday, and yours too, but there did not seem to be any of that on the mound.
There was nervousness in that dugout as the camera flashed on the energy you could just feel from Manager Jayce Tingler and his coaching staff as they stood and watched pitch by pitch.
There was edginess in the broadcast booth with Don Orsillo and Mark Grant sounding as if they were ready to explode while doing the TV broadcast.
But there was a methodical calm on the mound from Musgrove. There was a confidence in between innings, when you could see his catcher talk to him while scanning the lineup card, plotting how to pitch to hitters the next inning.
Musgrove may have labored in the middle of the game, but he worked thru the pitch counts. By the time we got to the 8th, you could almost feel his confidence spilling off the mound with each delivery of cutting breaking balls and 94mph fastballs.
Musgrove didn’t feel right in warming up in the bullpen, back tightness, knowing some pitches were not breaking-locating the way he wanted.
He would soldier on, and did he ever win the battle.
Musgrove sat in the dugout in calm as he mowed down the final 18-hitters inning by inning.
He may have been emptying the tank in the final innings, but he could not be touched. 112-pitches in all. 77-strikes…10-strikeouts.
He got help, with balls hit on the nose, but right at his right fielder, his 2nd baseman, and then his shortstop for the final out.
And then it was over. catcher Victor Caratini raced to the mound, jumping into Musgrove’s arms, a picture equal to the Yogi Berra-Don Larsen-World Series celebration so many decades ago.
Musgrove becomes the 306th major league pitcher to throw a no-hitter. It came after the Padres had played (8,205) games since their inception in 1969.
We all know about the legends. Nolan Ryan threw 7-no hitters. Bob Feller and Sandy Koufax notched 3-of them, and the fierce Justin Verlander just joined that group..
Johnny Vandermeer threw back to back no hitters for the Reds in 1938, the first games ever played under the newly installed lights at Crosley Field.
The cavalcade of great pitching names include Carl Hubbll and Walter Johnson.
Bob Feller threw one on opening day 1040
But did you know Babe Ruth of the Red Sox tossed a no-no too?
There have been back-to-back days of no hitters. Jim Maloney of the Reds no hit Houston, and Don Wilson turned around and no hit Cincinnati the next day
Same thing with Juan Marichal and Ray Washburn when the Giants played the Cardinals on a weekend.
Strange people have accomplished it also
The most famous was Harvey Haddix taking a Pirates perfect game and no hitter into the 12th then losing to Milwaukee.
Relief pitcher turned knuckleball starter Hoyt Wilhelm of the Orioles no hit the legendary Yankees, in the Mantle-Maris era..
The Houston Colt 45s Ken Johnson threw a no hitter only to lose to the Reds in the 9th on back to back errors.
Lifetime journeyman Edwin Jackson, who has been with 12-teams, threw one.
So did minor leaguer, part-time starter, Philip Humber.
And of course rookie Bobo Hollomon, of the 100-loss St Louis Browns, who threw one in his first major league start….went (1-7) that rookie year…and promptly disappeared back into the minor leagues, never to be heard of again.
No hitters by committee have happened a bunch. 6-Giants pitchers combined on one. 6-Astros pitchers go together on another, Amazing feats when you consider relief pitchers can run hot and cold sometimes.
I remember watching Jim Bunning of the Phillies throw a Father’s Day no hitter against the Mets.
And journeyman pitcher Bob Keegan of the White Sox, tossed one, on my birthday and thought that’s a pretty cool birthday gift to a kid baseball fan..
The Padres, they’ve been no hit a bunch,10-times overall, including twice by Giants phenom Tim Lincecum, in back to back years…and Doc Ellis telling everyone he was on LSD when he did his.
What is surprising, the list of those who never did, not 300-game winner Early Wynn…legendary Roger Clemens…strikeout artist Steve Carlton and the Braves icons Tom Glavine-Greg Maddux.
But Friday night was one for the memory record books. We needed that in San Diego, as the Covid world spins around us. The Padres needed that, coming on the heels of the Fernando Tatis injury scare.
Joe Musgrove earned it, his travels taking him from Grossmont High to the minor leagues, to the Astros, the Pirates and back home to San Diego.
By the end of the game, Rangers and Padres fans, wearing blue-red-brown jerseys and shirts, stood behind the dugout cheering ‘Let’s Go Padres’.
And on the night the Dodgers were distributing their glitzy World Series rings in LA, the Padres got a gem of an outing from Java Joe.
The no hitter, how can you not fall in love with the mystique of the game.
For a Friday night in Texas, a Padres pitcher allowed that to happen.
A memory of a lifetime for him, and for Padres fans everywhere.
A No-No for Joe.